Three afternoons and nights, with eight MIAA Super Bowls on the Gillette Stadium turf, the culmination of the high school football season. And the last champion to raise a trophy under the bright lights Friday night, Foxborough High, was playing 4.7 miles from its campus. It was quite a ride. Here are eight moments that stood out.
Division 1: After throwing a laser to senior receiver Caleb Brown for a 19-yard touchdown earlier in the second quarter, Xaverian quarterback Henry Hasselbeck rolled right and was looking for his top target again. Brown, thrust into a leading role with Jonathan Monteiro (shoulder) and Charlie Comella (shoulder) out, ran an excellent route, and Hasselbeck dropped a perfect ball in the back corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score despite getting crunched by an oncoming rusher at the last moment.
“[Brown is] a true competitor,” said Xaverian coach Al Fornaro. “He doesn’t sulk. He sulked one time, early in the season, because he thought he was open like every receiver does on every play, but he comes to practice every day, practices hard, and it bore out tonight.”
The duo went on to connect for one more touchdown in the second half of a thrilling 31-25 win, giving Xaverian its first title since 2015. In the third quarter, Hasselbeck delivered one more magical moment, with three cutbacks, tiptoeing the right sidelines, and taking on tacklers near the goal line for a 55-yard run that set up another touchdown.
“I’m sure as glad we have Henry Hasselbeck,” said Fornaro, “Because if he’s not the best player in the state, I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.”
McLeish a maestro
Division 2: The starting point for King Philip: run the ball with power and precision, and defend with relentless effort. But in finishing off its 13-0 season with a commanding 42-14 victory over a Marshfield squad determined to play up-tempo, the Warriors won out impressive balance. And the catalyst was senior QB Tommy McLeish, who dazzled with an 11-of-15 passing performance for 166 yards and three TDs.
It was his 42-yard touchdown strike with Tom Holland that put KP on top, 21-14, just before the half.
“I wish I could take any kind of credit for what Tommy McLeish adds to our program, but that’s all him,” said King Philip coach Brian Lee. “He’s an athlete, he’s a winner, and he’s such a good leader for us. He really grew into that kind of role for us. I’m just so happy to see a kid be able to do that.”
McLeish, though, applauded his line — “moving people all night” — and receivers Mason Campbell, Danny Silveria, and Holland.
Division 3: Trailing Bay State Herget rival Walpole, 14-0, for the second time this season, but this time on the state’s biggest stage, Milton coach Steve Dembowski was wondering if his Wildcats were still in Braintree, the site of their humbling 33-19 defeat on Thanksgiving morning, an effort that had left the nine-year coach furious with his team’s effort.
But in a up-and-down season of perseverance, both for team and coach making their second straight trip to Gillette, the Wildcats responded, and how. First-year starter Patrick Miller hit sophomore 1,000-yard receiver Ronan Sammon with an 11-yard TD, then a 4-yard toss on a perfectly-thrown dart to Will Renz, and Milton was back even, all part of 42 unanswered points in an impressive victory, and the school’s first championship.
“I was really nervous if we were [emotionally] going to get it back,” said Dembowski. “But when we play our ‘A’ game, we are really good. We are just a bunch of dudes that play hard. None are scholarship kids, but they love each other. So many first-year kids have stepped up. Kids grinding to find a way to get on the field. It’s what high school football is all about Just so proud of them.”.
Barlow a bulldog
Division 4: One of the most remarkable details for Duxbury senior Alex Barlow Friday night? The first of his five touchdowns did not come until the end of the first half.
With nine seconds on the clock, Barlow took a direct snap, found an opening, and torpedoed into the end zone. It was a hard-earned 1 yard, but there was never any question whether Barlow would find his way home.
From there, the Dragons took a commanding 20-point lead into halftime of an eventual 62-33 triumph. Barlow, who will play at Bentley, finished with 32 carries for 275 yards, helping the Dragons set the Super Bowl record for points and repeat as D4 champion.
“The O-line played their butts off, so I was just able to ride them,” Barlow said. “If you look at those touchdowns, I didn’t have to do much.”
Foxborough digs in
Division 5: Ben Scalzi, the orchestrator of Hanover’s quick-strike attack (36.6 points per game), hit top target John McDonald for a 66-yard TD to stun the Foxborough faithful in the first quarter.
How did the Foxborough D respond? With unrelenting pressure, forcing three first-half turnovers, punctuated by a 39-yard scoop-and-score from Brandon Mazenkas-O’Grady in the second quarter, the fuel for a decisive 48-21 victory, the fifth for 42-year coach Jack Martinelli’s program, but the first since 2006, and the first at Gillette.
“Our defense has been lights out all year, and we really came in believing we were going to beat this team, and it really showed on the defensive side,” said Moore, a 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound senior linebacker who had a third-quarter interception in the red zone.
Martinelli, who guided the Warriors to titles at the former Sullivan Stadium in 1987-88, said his team was a mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores “that let each other in to be part of the whole thing, and that doesn’t always happen. But I think the seniors realized there were some damn good skill kids that were underclassmen.”
Marques lines up praise
Division 6: Justin Marques set a Bowl state record with his 46 carries in a 26-22 win over Salem on Thursday. But the junior workhouse did so behind an offensive line that had a total of zero varsity starts entering the season.
Junior left guard Ben Comey and sophomore center Zach Moura saw the most reps and teamed up with junior left tackle Anthony Monteiro, junior right guard Fin Reynolds, and junior right tackles Adam Marashio and Andrew Medeiros, who gutted through a back injury on Thursday, to pave the way for a punishing running game.
“We all worked hard, we lifted, spent the summer running, hitting the sleds, the chutes, all that stuff,” said Comey. “We knew that we were going have a good season if we worked hard, banded together and be there for each other. We’re always there for each other and going out for dinners. We’re a close group.”
The LaChapelle Show
Division 7: In the third quarter Friday, Amesbury had trimmed Uxbridge’s three-score cushion to 20-16.
But the Spartans’ senior flash, QB Kellen LaChapelle, answered with his fourth touchdown of the afternoon, a 22-yard dash, he added a record-tying fifth score later in the third quarter, and his brother, Camden, a sophomore, added another in a 42-16, the program’s first championship in 31 years.
The group stuck to fundamentals and never got caught up in the moment, grounding themselves in faith in one another to spur a dominant effort.
“As you said, what is it about the resolve — that’s what they are and what they’ve been all year, a team that sort of rolls with punches,” said Uxbridge coach Matt Blood.
West Boylston ball
Division 8: Running a double wing offense that flourishes on physicality, unbeaten West Boylston controlled the point of attack, churning out a 359-yard rushing attack with five backs rushing for at least 55 yards.
But it was on defense that where the Lions ruled, never allowing Carver’s superb senior QB Tyler Lennox, to get settled, recording three sacks. The 2,711-yard, 37-TD passer was limited to 94 yards and one TD.
“They’ve got a great QB. After playing against a quarterback like [Treyvon Fields] at Cathedral, he ran around, so we knew what we were in store for,” said J.J. McNamara, who had a team-high 92 rushing yards and two sacks. “[Lennox] was good, he could throw the ball, he could pass it, get out of the pocket. All we had to do was get pressure and the rest is history.”
Trevor Hass, Brad Joyal, Cam Kerry, Craig Larson, and Keith Pearson contributed.